The European Union and seven member states whose governments ratified on Thursday the Minamata Convention on Mercury have lifted to 51 the total number of ratifications – and in doing so, reached the threshold that will now put the Minamata provisions into force.
The new ratifications by Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden mean that the Minamata Convention will become legally binding in 90 days, or on August 16, 2017.
Among the 14 African nations that previously have ratified the Minamata Convention are Benin, Chad, Djibouti and Ghana, as well as Madagascar, Senegal, Togo and Zambia. There are a total of 128 signatories, among them a number of African countries who have affirmed their acceptance.
The provisions are meant to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury releases and compounds. It is named after the Japanese city of Minamata, where a company discharged industrial waste containing high levels of mercury into nearby waters in the 1950s. As a result, 900 people died and more than 2,200 people have suffered from documented Minamata disease.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is expected to reduce the amount of mercury pollution in the global environment from a range of sources. One key area of its focus is on artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said in its statement.
The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention is scheduled to take place in Geneva in September. An updated list of Parties to the Convention can be found at www.mercuryconvention.org/Countries.
To learn more about the Minamata Convention on Mercury, see this video link.